Finding Videos: Public Performance Rights

This guide provides an overview of how to find films (VHS, DVD, and Streaming) in the Libraries' collections, as well as links to a number of free streaming video sites. URL:

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What are Public Performance Rights?

From Title 17 of the United States Code on Copyrights, Section 101, to perform or display a work "publicly" means:

  • to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered;

  • to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.

Why is it important to secure Public Performance Rights (PPR)? Showing media, whether borrowed from the library or rented/purchased, to groups outside of the classroom may be illegal, and may place the University at risk legally.

In short, to screen a film outside of your home or outside of a face-to-face class (for which the film is listed on the syllabus and used for instructional purposes) , the person or group responsible must secure Public Performance Rights (PPR).

How to Secure Public Performance Rights

The Public Performance Rights (PPR) for most major Hollywood releases are handled by Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. in St. Louis, Missouri , and Criterion Pictures USA in Morton Grove, Illinois. Other companies that handle PPR include Kino Lorber and Modern Sound Pictures.

Should you have questions about securing Public Performance Rights for other films, please consult Stephanie Mathson for assistance. Please note that the CMU Libraries cannot pay for PPR; those fees will be the responsibility of the organization or group screening the film.

Vendors That Include Public Performance Rights

The CMU Libraries buys films from several vendors (aka distributors) that bundle Public Performance Rights with the titles being purchased or leased. Those vendors are listed below, but if you have questions, please contact Stephanie Mathson.

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